An icy Christmas Day swim in South Devon has been a tradition for some time now, but in the...
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the village of East Portlemouth is a true South Devon gem. Positioned across the Salcombe Estuary, situated on the southern end of the Kingsbridge Estuary, it’s just a short ferry ride away from the vibrant harbour town of Salcombe.
Harnessing the ultimate laid back atmosphere, a long sandy beach flanks the village, and is backed by rambling woodland and rolling countryside providing direct access to the South West Coast Path. The beach itself is well regarded not just for its white sand and crystal clear water, but also for its outstanding facilities and safe and secure environment, and as such, it’s one of South Devon’s most favoured family beaches. Even in the height of summer, there is a calm and relaxed vibe, with the majority of the hustle and bustle found on the water in the way of sailboats, swimmers, kayakers and paddle boarders. Find out more about this popular South Devon destination in our comprehensive guide to East Portlemouth Beach.
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Sandy and secluded, East Portlemouth Beach is made up of a number of smaller beaches, Fisherman’s Cove, Small’s Cove and Mill Bay, all of which boast stunning estuary views, smooth expanses of sand and crystal clear water. Easy to find your own privacy, it’s the perfect bolthole for those who want to escape the crowds, and the real icing on the cake is that it’s situated on the ‘sunnier side’ of the Salcombe valley, so you can expect to enjoy a few more hours of sunshine than those sitting opposite! Dog-friendly year round it’s a popular spot amongst dog walkers who love to explore the region’s sandy shores with their canine companions.
The safe bathing water quality is consistently graded as ‘excellent’, perfect for those who like to make a splash children, grown ups and dogs alike, allowing you to relax in the knowledge that the shores are both clean and safe. At low tide you’ll find a myriad of rock pools to explore that are teeming with wildlife, keeping budding marine biologists occupied for hours. Should you want to venture slightly further afield, why not hop on the ferry to the mecca that is Salcombe and navigate the cobbled high street, home to boutique shops and bustling independent eateries. Mostly, people visit East Portlemouth Beach to take part in a few classic British beach activities, so expect towering ice-creams, sumptuous picnics, and sandcastles in abundance. Also a hub for sailing and water sports, a steady flow of sailboats, kayaks and paddleboards dominate the water.
The beaches that make up East Portlemouth have all the facilities you’ll need to make your day completely stress free, and it comes as no surprise that this is one of South Devon’s most loved family beaches. With ample parking, disabled access to the beach, clean toilets and a thriving beachside café and shop, there is very much a feeling that no grain of sand has been left unturned to provide a perfect day out.
Situated above the ferry slipway, the Venus Café at East Portlemouth is a popular establishment amongst both local residents and visitors, and is home to a thriving community of beach lovers, regardless of season or weather. The beachside café takes in panoramic views of Salcombe town and the estuary, and as you can imagine, it’s a great spot to watch the world go by, and with a menu consisting of artisan pasties, toasted paninis, wraps, sandwiches, local ice cream and cream teas, there’s something on offer for everyone. Primarily a takeaway service, you will also find a cluster of tables with stunning estuary views, which you are encouraged to use, space permitting! The integrated beach shop sells buckets, spades and beach games, which is convenient should you forget any essentials.
East Portlemouth is a picture perfect South Devon village situated on the southern end of the Kingsbridge Estuary. Adjacent to the harbour town of Salcombe, the village is perched on a hill and takes in views of Salcombe, Kingsbridge, and on a clear day as far reaching as Dartmoor.
Whilst there are several parking options for those visiting East Portlemouth Beach, our best advice is to arrive early because the spaces get snapped up quickly, especially in the height of summer. You will find on-road parking in the village of East Portlemouth, and also a small car park (please note, getting to the beach from here on foot does involve a steep path), with more on-road parking beside the Venus Café. There is also a National Trust car park (postcode TQ8 8PU) at the Mill Bay end of the beach, which is free of charge for members and chargeable for non-members.
One of the most popular ways to reach East Portlemouth Beach is to journey across the Salcombe Estuary on the East Portlemouth Ferry – children in particular love it, especially on sunny, breezy days when the seaspray is less forgiving! Providing access from Salcombe to East Portlemouth every day of the year, come rain or shine, the ferry sails from the Jubilee Ferry Pier in the summer months (April – October) and from Whitestrand Pontoon in the winter months (November – March). On weekdays, the earliest crossing is at 8am, moving to 8.30am at weekends/bank holidays, and the service continues to run half hourly throughout the day until 6.30pm. An adult single ticket costs £1.70, children are £1.40 and bicycles 60p. The short ferry ride crosses the Salcombe estuary toward the East Portlemouth ferry slip, above which you will find the Venus Café, the perfect pit stop for rumbling tums.
If sitting on the beach for too long gives you itchy feet, then not to worry, because East Portlemouth Beach is just a stone’s throw (quite literally!) from the South West Coast Path, and best of all, it’s the starting point to some of the region’s most popular walking routes. The circular route from East Portlemouth to Gara Rock boasts dramatic views leading along the Salcombe Estuary to wide open sea, and returns through rolling South Devon countryside. For those after something a little more arduous, continue along the coast path from Gara Rock towards Prawle Point, Lannacombe Beach and Mattiscombe Beach and if you can manage it, onto Start Point. This stretch of coastline is wild, rugged and raw, and showcases some of the region’s most dramatic scenery. Alternatively, head to Salcombe and pick up the well-trodden but tranquil South West Coast Path that heads towards Hope Cove, Thurlestone and Bantham.
At Coast & Country Cottages, we love walking, so much so we’ve curated a comprehensive walking guide to South Devon – be sure to download it for the finer details on the region’s walking routes.
East Portlemouth, Salcombe and the surrounding area is famed for its world class white sand beaches, and provides an enviable selection of sandy retreats and secluded coves. Just a short walk along the South West Coast Path you will find the unspoilt and secluded Gara Rock Beach, whilst on the Salcombe side North Sands and South Sands are popular sandy beaches with excellent facilities. A little further afield you will find the sandy stretches of Bantham Beach and Bigbury-on-Sea, both of which are especially popular with water sport enthusiasts. At Coast & Country Cottages we love the beach, so much so we have detailed all you need to know in our beach related blog posts.
At Coast & Country we boast a varied collection of holiday cottages in East Portlemouth from large luxury properties overlooking the sandy shores and Salcombe Estuary and enjoying private beach access, to dog friendly cottages and quaint romantic cottages nestled in the nearby countryside. A holiday cottage in East Portlemouth offers the best of both worlds – sandy beaches on your doorstep, with the vibrant town of Salcombe just a short hop across the water.